Books still rule, but digital readers are fast expanding

The tastes of the reading public are taking a digital turn.

A Pew Internet Research Center survey released Thursday found that the percentage of Americans aged 16 and older who read an e-book grew from 16 percent in 2011 to 23 percent this year. Readers of traditional books dropped from 72 percent to 67 percent. Overall, those reading books of any kind dropped from 78 percent to 75 percent, a shift Pew called statistically insignificant.

Those owning an e-book device or tablet jumped from 18 percent to 33 percent, with much of that increase coming from last year’s holiday season, when millions received Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers as gifts.

Awareness that libraries offer digital texts grew from 24 percent to 31 percent.

The telephone survey of 2,252 people aged 16 and older was conducted from Oct. 15 to Nov. 10. It has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

Hedge fund founder to pay settlement of $1.45 million

A New York hedge fund founder serving the longest prison term ever given for insider trading also will be writing the government a big check.

Raj Rajaratnam will pay nearly $1.45 million to settle a civil case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. A federal judge approved the deal Thursday.

The documents say the settlement includes $1.29 million representing “profits gained and losses avoided” as a result of trading on tips from a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. director convicted separately in June. The settlement also includes $148,000 in prejudgment interest.

The Sri Lanka-born Rajaratnam founded the Galleon Group of hedge funds. The 55-year-old was convicted last year of trading on inside information. He’s serving 11 years at a Massachusetts federal prison and has appealed.

U.S. jobless applications fall by 12,000, to 350,000

Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped last week by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to a nearly five-year low of 356,750.

But many state unemployment offices were closed Monday and Tuesday because of the holiday and could not provide exact data. That forced the government to rely on estimates for 19 states. The figures will likely be significantly revised next week.

Four retailers agree to recall Nap Nanny baby recliners

Four national retailers have agreed to recall more than 150,000 Nap Nanny baby recliners after at least five infant deaths and dozens of reports of children nearly falling out of the recliners.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the four retailers – Amazon.com, Buy Buy Baby, Diapers.com and Toys R Us/Babies R Us – agreed to voluntarily participate in the recall of the Nap Nanny because its manufacturer is unable or unwilling to participate. The manufacturer, Baby Matters LLC of Berwyn, Pa., told The Associated Press that it had gone out of business.

CPSC is warning that the Nap Nanny contains dangerous defects in its design, warnings and instructions.

Toyota sales rebound after earthquake, tsunami disaster

Toyota says it expects to sell 9.7 million vehicles this year, bouncing back by 22 percent from a disaster-struck 2011. It has set an even higher target of 9.91 million vehicles for 2013.

The numbers released this week underline Toyota Motor Corp.’s solid turnaround from supply disruptions caused by the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan in 2011.

They also underline the Japanese automaker’s ambitions to move past the woes from massive recalls that began in 2009, especially in North America.

On Wednesday, Toyota said it reached a settlement of more than $1 billion to resolve hundreds of lawsuits from Toyota owners who said the value of their cars and trucks plunged after the recalls.

– From news service reports